Obituary: S. Fredric (Fred) Marsh 1935 – July 2, 2023

Fred Marsh, Los Alamos National Lab analytical chemist and Los Alamos resident from 1972 to 1998, passed away on July 2, 2023. 

Fred was born in New York City in 1935, but grew up in Phoenix, AZ. His early interests included all things mechanical, particularly automobiles. He used his newspaper route earnings to buy old cars, fix them up, and sell them. He eventually worked in several auto garages before and during college. Early on he also showed a flair for music, playing saxophone in high school band and a semi-pro combo that played local dances for cash.

Given his mechanical and musical interests, Fred didn’t initially considered himself “college material.” But a high school counselor convinced him that indeed he was. She encouraged him to apply to Boys’ State, an academic camp held at Northern Arizona University (NAU) in Flagstaff each summer. Afterward, Fred applied to and was accepted by NAU.

Fred left home the day after graduating from high school with a suitcase, his saxophone, a small amount of cash in his pocket, and never looked back. He earned his way through college, working at auto repair garages and 1950s-style college dance bands.

He met Nancy Chiappetti at NAU. They married in 1958 and had sons Steven in early 1960 and Michael in late 1961.

In college Fred discovered a knack for science. He graduated with a Master’s degree in chemistry and a minor in physics. He worked at laboratories in Idaho and Virginia before coming to the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in Los Alamos, New Mexico in 1972.
Fred had a distinguished career at LANL. He has several U.S. patents to his name and eventually won LANL’s Exceptional Performance Award. Most of his LANL career was physically located at the TA-55 site on LANL’s campus. He initially worked for the Analytical Chemistry (CHM-1) group, which later re-organized into the Materials, Science and Technology (MST-12) group.

Fred, accompanied by Nancy, worked in England from 1989 to 1990 as a visiting researcher program at Harwell Laboratory near Oxford. Upon returning to LANL, he worked for the Non-Destructive Materials Testing group (NMT-2). He retired in 1992, but was rehired in 1993 to work at LANL’s NMT-6 group. 

From 1995 to 1997 Fred continued to work in Los Alamos on a collaborative/cooperative assignment for Sandia National Labs. After his permanent retirement in 1997, he and Nancy moved to Corrales, NM and eventually Vancouver, WA. He volunteered for a community environmental group in Corrales and was prominently featured in the book documenting their saga, Boiling Frogs by Barbara Rockwell.

Fred’s passion for mechanics continued throughout his life. In 1973, he and another man built the family’s Los Alamos house on Arizona Avenue. It incinerated in May 2000 in the Cerro Grande fire, after the Marshes had moved to Corrales. But Fred continued to do his own auto repairs well into his late 70’s. Both of Fred’s sons inherited his passion for music, and continue to play multiple instruments to this day. 

Fred was preceded in death by his sister Geraldine, of Sacramento, CA. He is survived by his wife Nancy, of Vancouver, WA; son Steven and daughter-in-law Saiko Fujii of Thousand Oaks, CA, and son Michael and daughter-in-law Lisa Harris of Boulder, CO. In lieu of a memorial, donations can be made to Fred’s favorite charities, Feeding America and Doctors Without Borders USA